Daily Devotion Thursday, November 5, 2015
This week the inspiration for our Daily Devotions will be drawn from the sermon that I preached this past Sunday for All Saints' Day--a sermon on grief, loss, hope, life, heaven, Heaven and resurrection. If you would like to read the transcript of that sermon, you can click HERE. The Scripture that we used as our guide was John chapter 11--the story of Jesus raising of Lazarus from the dead.
In his best-selling novel The Five People You Meet In Heaven, author Mitch Albom paints a beautiful portrait of the mission of heaven itself--as a place where we are given the gift of clarity. In heaven (or more accurately paradise), according to Albom's story, the whole of our lives suddenly makes sense. We get the chance to see how all of the dots connect.
Eddie, the main character in the novel, has just died and enters paradise where he is met by the first of the five people he must speak to--a character known as The Blue Man. Albom writes:
"There are five people you meet in heaven," the Blue Man suddenly said. "Each was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth."Granted, The Five People You Meet In Heaven is a work of fiction, a parable to be more precise, and I am sure that Albom himself would offer a caveat against reading it as anything more.
But still, I think there is something to Albom's little novel that speaks into the heart of what our first moments in heaven could be like. Author and scholar Scot McKnight believes that our first moments in paradise will be filled with reconciliation--reconciliation between us and God, to be sure, but also between us and those we may have struggled with in life.
He writes, "Because of the permeating influence of God's powerful grace of truth, repentance, forgiveness, embrace and reconciliation, we too will be reconciled with others."
I have a fairly active imagination, so I can imagine Albom's vision of heaven, alongside the vision that Scot McKnight portrays in his work. What if heaven is all of those things? What if (and I have come to believe this so strongly) heaven is a place where you are given the gift of clarity and meaning--where all of your life suddenly makes sense--and you have that same clarity when it comes to other people?
Imagine finally having the answers to the tragedies that occurred in your life that seemed to be completely random and meaningless. Imagine the peace that comes from knowing at last why you endured suffering, didn't fulfill a lifelong dream, never had the chance to say goodbye to someone you held dear.
And then imagine along with all of that clarity and peace also being able to stand face-to-face with those you may have harbored hatred, anger or bitterness against. Imagine being flooded with feelings of forgiveness and repentance as you embrace people who caused you pain, who broke your heart.
I believe in heaven we will be reconciled first with God and then with one another. As Christians we are called to seek reconciliation on this side of eternity, but the reality is that in our frailty and because of the nature of our sometimes very broken world it's not always possible. But one day, all things will be possible.
Until that day, though, may you live into the hope of clarity and peace, reconciliation, repentance and forgiveness. May you live into the hope of a world made new through the grace, mercy and glory of God.